Solar Panel Cost in North Carolina (2022 Local Savings Guide)
Here’s a quick look at the estimated cost of solar in North Carolina:
- Average Cost Per Watt: $2.54
- Cost of Average System: $19,736*
- Cost of Energy Without Solar: $46,705
- Payback Period: 13 Years**
- Lifetime Savings of Going Solar: $20,035
*Average system size is calculated using data from the Energy Information Administration. This price is after tax credit.
**Payback period is calculated assuming the system is purchased in cash.
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As more and more homeowners in the Tar Heel State become aware of the benefits of generating their own electricity via solar energy, many are asking: How much do solar panels cost in North Carolina?
While most people these days inherently recognize the environmental benefits of solar energy, as well as the ability to raise their property values and perhaps even make money by selling excess generation back to the grid, all of those opportunities will remain out of reach if the cost of solar panels in North Carolina is out of their price range.
In this article, we’ll explain how much solar panels cost in North Carolina as well as financial incentives available in the state. However, the figures we present are just averages, and you’ll need to get a free quote from a solar installer to see how much a system would actually cost for your home.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in North Carolina?
North Carolina has quickly become one of the top states for solar installations, and for good reason: The average cost of solar panels in North Carolina is slightly below the national average. Based on market research and data we’ve collected from top solar panel brands, the average solar panel cost in North Carolina is $2.54 per watt, while the U.S. average is $2.66 per watt.
To put that into context, a reasonable sized installation for a North Carolina home may be about 5 kilowatts, which would put the solar panel costs at $12,700. This lowers to $8,890 after applying the federal solar tax credit.
These prices, of course, will increase as the size of the project increases, as show in the following table of potential solar panel system sizes:
|Size of Solar Panel System||North Carolina Solar Panel Cost||Cost After 30% Federal Tax Credit|
However, the above table only represents expected average costs of a solar energy system. Many different factors can come into play when determining how much you’ll actually pay for solar panels in North Carolina, some of the most critical of which are discussed in the following section.
What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina?
Solar panel systems in North Carolina typically range from $8,890 to $17,780 after the federal investment tax credit (ITC) is accounted for.
The range of pricing for solar panels in North Carolina is so wide because system costs depend on a number of variables. In the sections below, we’ll discuss the most crucial factors to consider when estimating the cost of solar panels in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, which solar system components you go with as well as the brands you choose will both affect your total system pricing.
North Carolina residents are no strangers to extreme weather, with hurricanes and tropical storms hitting the state every year. These weather events can increase the risk of damage to your solar panels as well as the risk of power outages.
Opting for a solar panel brand with a good physical protection warranty and an installation company like SunPower that offers roof leak protection will tend to raise your costs, but it is well worth the investment in the long run. Many solar customers in North Carolina also choose to install solar batteries to provide energy through blackouts, and these can drive up costs by tens of thousands of dollars.
North Carolina experiences 213 sunny days per year — above the national average of 205 days. Because this amount of sunlight should produce enough energy to offset their energy bills, most homeowners don’t need high-efficiency panels. More modestly sized solar panel systems should suffice, meaning lower overall costs.
Solar Financing in North Carolina
The method you use to pay for your solar panels will, of course, affect your pricing. Cash purchases, for example, will require the largest layout up front but will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest over time. Solar loans require far less cash up front but will require you to pay interest, increasing your total overall.
North Carolina has several programs that make solar financing more affordable and appealing. The Financing Program for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency sets the maximum loan term for solar loans at 20 years and the maximum interest rate at 8%, lowering overall costs.
Additionally, the Community Solar for Low to Moderate Income Customers and the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s community solar program both make solar more affordable for low-income households.1
North Carolina Solar Installation Company
The company you choose to handle your solar installation will also have an impact on your overall cost to go solar. Each company sets its own rates for labor and equipment, so simply shopping around for installers in North Carolina can have a major impact on your price.
Some of the local solar companies in North Carolina — like 8M Solar and NC Solar Now — tend to have slightly higher equipment pricing but they often provide discounts to compete with the national companies that buy equipment in bulk. They also tend to provide better customer service than the national companies in the area like SunPower and SunPro.
Additionally, the panel brands offered by your solar installer will affect your system’s efficiency and pricing. SunPower, for example, only installs panels from its sister company, Maxeon. These panels have the highest efficiency in the industry, as well as one of the best overall warranty coverages, but they come at a high cost.
In contrast, the local company 8M Solar installs LG, Tesla and Maxeon panels, so you have more options to choose from to suit your energy needs, warranty preferences and budget.
Additional Considerations and Costs
Although the factors discussed above will have the biggest impact on your overall cost of going solar, there are some additional things to consider that can affect your experience and your price. These smaller-impact factors are:
- Permits: Every municipality in North Carolina will require a building permit for solar panel installation. The permit fee will usually fall between $25 and a few hundred dollars, depending on your local municipality.
- Licenses: Solar installation companies in North Carolina must meet several requirements to be licensed to install solar panels. These include an electrical contractor license, liability insurance, workers comp insurance and more. Generally speaking, the more requirements there are for solar installers, the more your installation will cost.
- Warranties: Every solar manufacturer and installer provides different solar system warranties — usually ranging from five to 25 years for parts, labor, roof leaks and workmanship. The longer your warranty the better, but more comprehensive and extensive coverage usually costs more.
- HOAs: Thankfully, North Carolina law prohibits homeowners’ associations and other private entities from restricting your ability to install solar, which means you’re guaranteed to be able to install solar panels in North Carolina. Unlike some other states, North Carolina doesn’t guarantee access to actual sunlight.
- Environmental zoning: In some states, environmental zoning laws can restrict solar installation, particularly for ground-mounted solar. The legislation in North Carolina is favorable for solar adoption, so most homeowners won’t have an issue going solar.
North Carolina Solar Incentives
To help with solar panel costs, North Carolina has put in place a variety of financial incentives for homeowners. These opportunities are summarized in the table below and highlighted in our full review of North Carolina solar incentives.
|North Carolina Solar Incentive||How it Affects the Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina|
|Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems||North Carolina does not tax you for the increase in property value after installing solar panels.|
|North Carolina Net Metering Policy||Surplus electricity from your home solar system can be credited at retail price on your next power bill.|
|Duke Energy Solar Rebate||Duke Energy customers can qualify for a cash incentive ($400 per kW for residential systems up to 10 kW) when installing a solar panel system.|
|Financing Program for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency||North Carolina has a law that enables revolving loan programs from cities and counties, with a maximum interest rate of 8% and a maximum term of 20 years.|
|Local Solar Incentives||Additional incentives may be available from your county, city or utility company, so be sure to consult your local city and county government websites.|
|Federal Solar Tax Credit||Anyone in the U.S. can take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit. For solar systems installed before the end of 2032, 30% of the cost of the system is available as a tax credit on your federal filing.|
The Best Solar Panel Brands Available in North Carolina
The solar panels available to you depend on the solar installer you choose — many homeowners select their installer based on their budget and the brands the installer carries. The table below provides a side-by-side comparison of the best solar panel manufacturers with products available in North Carolina, as well as their relative costs, to help you decide which manufacturers might suit your budget.
|Solar Panel Brand||Average Cost Per Watt ($-$$$$$)|
Ready to see what size solar panel system would suit your home and how much it will cost? Check out our recommended providers below to get a free, no-obligation quote for solar panels that can eliminate your energy bills.
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FAQ: Solar Panel Cost North Carolina
At EcoWatch, we’re happy to get questions about the process and costs of getting rooftop solar from North Carolina residents. Below are some of the questions we see most often, along with our responses. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The average cost of solar panels in NC is $2.54 per watt, which is slightly below the national average of $2.66 per watt. For a 5-kilowatt installation, that would come out to $12,700 (down to $8,890 after applying for the federal tax credit). For a 10-kilowatt installation, that would come out to $25,400 ($17,780 after the tax credit).
We recommend consulting with a few solar companies in your area to make sure your house is a good fit for solar.
No, solar panels are not free in North Carolina. However, based on the numerous incentives and tax credits and the ability for solar installations to reduce your monthly utility bill, over the lifetime of the solar systems you can expect to save more money than you spend for a net profit.